Bike Lanes New I-44 Bridges over Meramec River at I-44/I-270

All the ways we move people and things: trains, planes, automobiles, biking, walking, etc.
So I sent this note to MODOT about adding a bike/ped lane to one of the new bridges across the Meramec River that they are about to rebuild. A bike/ped lane would finally allow eventual linkage of the upper and lower portions of the Meramec Greenway. They are rebuilding the bridges and have added bike/ped lanes to other interstate bridges, such as the new bridge over the Missouri River on I-64. But unfortunately here is their response to Meramec Greenway completion linkage:

I wrote: Will the new bridges across the Meramec River near I-44/I-270 have bike/hike trail addition to finally link the two halves of the Great Rivers Greenway Meramec Greenway? Seems like a golden opportunity to link the split trail divided only by the River, and encourage people to bike instead of drive. This may be the last opportunity to link the whole trail in our lifetime. The 141 bridge could have linked them, but the builder of that bridge left no room for any bike lane, or even a shoulder for cars. Don't make that mistake again. Thanks.

MODOT Reply: We discussed the option of turning over the old westbound bridge with the two municipalities on either side of the river. Neither one of them were able to assume future maintenance on the old bridge. Great Rivers Greenway uses their funding to build new trails, but requires a local municipality to commit to/assume future maintenance.

My thoughts: So MODOT takes no responsibility for bikes -- only trucks I guess. They blame Sunset Hills, Fenton, and maybe Kirkwood for not funding. I think St. Louis County also has land there in the form of Emmenegger Park. And they say Great Rivers Green way won't use their own money for this since it would be considered a new trail and they will only do it if someone else will fund maintenance. (Haven't we passed every tax for GRG ever put up for a vote?)

So I think we are losing an opportunity here, certainly in my lifetime, by failing to link up the Meramec Greenway into a single greenway trail. Instead, I guess we are asking future generations to wait until another new bridge is required again some day in the future at either 141 or I-44. Looks like typical government entities pointing the finger at each other and saying it is their fault. "Sad". Here are similar bike lanes over the Missouri River which is much much wider and must have cost a fortune by comparison.

Page Bridge:
ImagePage_bridge.image by Gary Kreie, on Flickr

Daniel Boone Bridge:
ImageDanial_Boone_Bridge_I64 by Gary Kreie, on Flickr
Thanks Gary. I cringe every time I see pedestrians walking across the 44 Meramec bridges. There is no shoulder so they walk in in a traffic lane. Would also be great to connect the trails
The lack of bike/ped access across the Meramec is a glaring hole in the overall system. Especially when there are segments already present across the river from each other. The only bridge i'm aware of that has such access is the Old 30 Bridge built a few years ago in Fenton, but there isn't much connectivity on the Sunset Hills side. More bridge crossings along the Meremec would be helpul since many areas have trails on both sides of the river and the connect points.

Isn't one other thing is try to building a connector route between Grant's Trail and Meremec Greenway through Kirkwood?
I live in downtown Kirkwood, and it is pretty easy to get from here to Grant's Trail on city streets. Most are quiet streets, and the route has dedicated bike lanes, or is marked for bike/car sharing. Here is the Route the City just laid out to get to from Grant's Trail to Meramec Community College.

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From Meramec College, the preferred route is now to continue West on Rose Hill to Craig to the new Big Bend bridge over I-270, which has new bike/pedestrian lanes separated from traffic with a concrete divider. After crossing I-270 you would immediately turn left on Glenwood and ride down the hill through on Timberbrook through Kirkwood Bluffs Apartments to get to Marshall Rd. The start of the trail is almost right across the street, but the plan shows Kirkwood will add a short connector soon.

Eventually, I think they want a more direct, more off-streets connector along Big Bend, the college, and Marshall Road. Kirkwood seems to think some other government should be the ones who pay for bike lanes down the hill on Marshall Road, for some reason. It would need a climbing lane minimum.
That hill Is the big issue in terms of needing to deal with steeper grade and other safety related issues. I did see one possible idea is have a bypass of Marshall road east of 270 by going north along 270 and through Dee Koestering Park.

Is there plans to go along Geyer from the Community College south to get towards Powder Valley and possibly get to the river using Craigwold and the park along the river there? That and it would only be a short stub that If Sunset Hills works on could connect to Laumeier.
imperialmog wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:30 pm
The lack of bike/ped access across the Meramec is a glaring hole in the overall system. Especially when there are segments already present across the river from each other. The only bridge i'm aware of that has such access is the Old 30 Bridge built a few years ago in Fenton, but there isn't much connectivity on the Sunset Hills side. More bridge crossings along the Meremec would be helpul since many areas have trails on both sides of the river and the connect points.

Isn't one other thing is try to building a connector route between Grant's Trail and Meremec Greenway through Kirkwood?
Here are two replies I got from Great Rivers Greenway on the subject of putting a trail over the new I-44 bridges to link-up upper and lower Meramec Greenway trails.

Great Rivers Greenway: Gary, thanks for sharing this with us. We are very interested in the possibility of having a bike/ped lane added to these bridges to help connect the two sides of the Meramec. A few of our team are planning on attending the meeting tomorrow night.

Great Rivers Greenway: Hi Gary, Thanks for reaching out to us. We understand your frustration, and we too would love to see a bike/ped connection between the two sides of the Meramec. The information that you were provided is somewhat correct. When we build new greenways, we do work with the local municipalities that the trails will pass through and enter into operations and maintenance agreements to ensure that the upkeep and maintenance of the newly constructed facilities. We do not have the staff or capacity to maintain all the greenways and we work with our local partners to make sure these trails are resources the region can consistently enjoy. That all said, these bridges are MoDOT projects, and any bike/ped lanes constructed as part of the bridge projects would fall entirely within MoDOT's purview so we are a bit confused about the response that you received. We would love the opportunity to work with MoDOT, and the municipalities on both sides of the river to help make these connections happen!

Also, separately, MODOT sent me this note when I asked about simply adding a 10' bike lane to the new bridge, as they did for Page and Danial Boone bridges. Here is what they said.

MODOT: It's not quite the same. Both the Page and the Daniel Boone project had trails directly on either side of the bridge. Although you have the Greenway on one side, there is no trail immediately on the other side to connect to. In addition, you have the roadway underneath the bridge, and several high speed ramps that are very close to this bridge. This main purpose of this project is to take care of the existing system and replace two 50-60 year old bridges across the Meramec and to make some minor adjustments to have traffic moves between I-44 and I-270.

My take: I'm pretty sure clever MODOT and Trailnet folks could solve the technical part if someone could solve the bureaucratic part. Unlike the bridges over the Missouri, this bridge is short and no barges go underneath, so a bike bridge could hang lower, for instance. Anyway, they should have put a bike trail on the 141 bridge when it was built a few years ago which would have solved all this. But I'm sure back them someone said the main purpose was to take care of the existing system. (read trucks.)
The 141 bridge was actually built in 1986 or so and some rehab since then since it changed from a 4 to 6 lane bridge. One possibility is the railroad bridge just downstream if its ever replaced could be converted to connect to trails on both sides. That bridge is very old and only one track, so not sure if the railroad is looking at replacing it in time.

The possible issue is with a lower hanging bridge is flooding issues that it needs to clear that, which isn't much lower than the highways. Since if its not high enough a flood could damage or destroy a bridge.
imperialmog wrote:The 141 bridge was actually built in 1986 or so and some rehab since then since it changed from a 4 to 6 lane bridge. One possibility is the railroad bridge just downstream if its ever replaced could be converted to connect to trails on both sides. That bridge is very old and only one track, so not sure if the railroad is looking at replacing it in time.

The possible issue is with a lower hanging bridge is flooding issues that it needs to clear that, which isn't much lower than the highways. Since if its not high enough a flood could damage or destroy a bridge.
I had a discussion with GRG a couple of years ago about the railroad bridge. The supports use to support two railroad bridges. The second is gone but the supports are still there. So it would be easy to just build a bike/ped bridge there. But GRG said they are guessing the railroad won’t want one next to their bridge so won’t pursue.



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Went to the MoDOT meeting tonight and met the leads there and pushed for a bike lane to finally link up main parts of the Meramec greenway. They were very nice. But they seemed to point to GRG, Kirkwood, Fenton, Jacob Engineer, less state funding, etc. as who I should convince. GRG said MoDOT owns this, etc. If government can’t look to the future, we may need a donation from a rich private funding source to work around government.


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I believe that bridge over the meramec dates back To at least 1930 when the nearby roads bridge was built
I just came back from Amsterdam a few weeks ago, and bicycles have passed cars as the primary commuting vehicle there. They have Bike-only lanes, and large bicycle underground parking garages. I was shocked. I was there 30 years ago and it was nothing like it is now in terms of so many bicyclers.

And we can't even get a single bike lane on a brand new 60-year bridge to link up two existing long bike trails. We are doing our grandchildren a big disservice. Why is St. Louis always the last to change? Is there some kind of trailing-edge law here or something?

Photos from the Amsterdam Commutes.
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Well, obviously Amsterdam is perfect for bicycling: It's compact and dead flat.
It's the same thing in Copenhagen (just got back from there). It's quite impressive to behold - seeing morning bike traffic.
Portions of Japan are like that too, around Tokyo or Kyoto, I think. My brother even took pictures of multi-level bicycle garages. Vietnam isn't like that right now, but it was. And maybe will be again. (There are still quite a lot of bikes, even if scooters outnumber them ten to one.)
What is strange is this being an issue since it was designed for such things on other bridge projects recently in the area being built or retrofits to make it accessable. Just sounds like the hangup relates to the lack of trails on the Sunset Hills/Kirkwood site right at 270, though I think there are designs on adding some there and making the road to Powder Valley more bike friendly. And it would likely be easier since its a shorter span than doing this along the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers.

Where I live in Washington, MO the bridge being constructed here currently being designed as bike friendly was among the biggest local concerns in design, and it also involved adding bike lanes for the several miles north along 47 to connect to the Katy Trail. I think the city largely is funding these additions on its own since its outside Great Rivers Greenway district. (is there mechanism for other counties to join tax district?)
imperialmog wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:51 am

Where I live in Washington, MO the bridge being constructed here currently being designed as bike friendly was among the biggest local concerns in design, and it also involved adding bike lanes for the several miles north along 47 to connect to the Katy Trail. I think the city largely is funding these additions on its own since its outside Great Rivers Greenway district. (is there mechanism for other counties to join tax district?)
Dont get me started on that bridge, bids came in $12,000,000 over the budgeted amount...i didnt sleep for a week trying to find extra $12M. Also that bridge (for whatever reason) got $10M in TIGER funds, and Roy Blunt made $1.2M go towards bells and whistles on the bridge.
(i am no longer with modot, so i sleep better now)
Ever dreamt about having safety lanes for bike/ped users across I-44 bridges? It's time to tell @MoDOT_StLouis: https://buff.ly/2xq3X6z
https://twitter.com/Trailnet/status/923578599571181569


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http://modot.mo.gov/stlouis/major_proje ... ign=buffer
dbInSouthCity wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:36 am
imperialmog wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:51 am

Where I live in Washington, MO the bridge being constructed here currently being designed as bike friendly was among the biggest local concerns in design, and it also involved adding bike lanes for the several miles north along 47 to connect to the Katy Trail. I think the city largely is funding these additions on its own since its outside Great Rivers Greenway district. (is there mechanism for other counties to join tax district?)
Dont get me started on that bridge, bids came in $12,000,000 over the budgeted amount...i didnt sleep for a week trying to find extra $12M. Also that bridge (for whatever reason) got $10M in TIGER funds, and Roy Blunt made $1.2M go towards bells and whistles on the bridge.
(i am no longer with modot, so i sleep better now)
I got to talk to MoDOT Area Engineer Karen Yeomans at the public meeting Monday, along with the Jacobs Engineering engineer and another lead manager whose name I don't recall. Both MoDOT and GRG are saying they would love to be contacted by the other to talk about this. So I'm offering to facilitate a meeting. Both GRG and Trailnet are now showing the plans on their Facebook pages and asking for input.

I'm afraid a lot of people are not aware that these are the bridges being replaced, and realize the great opportunity here to link the bike trails along the Meramec from Arnold all they way to Valley Park into one nearly all off-road contiguous trail. And we won't have this opportunity for another 60 years. MoDOT Is providing 10 lanes and 6 shoulders for cars and trucks on these new bridges, and zero for bike/pedestrians. I naively assumed all new bridges over rivers get bike lanes nowadays, since all of the new bridges over the Missouri River have been getting them. So I'm afraid, if the walking and biking public doesn't respond now, they'll find out too late what we could have done for our children and grandchildren. Linking flat trails to each other is how you get networks of trails that make biking fun and feasible for commuting. Here is photo from the MoDOT Plan.

ImageNew_I44_Bridge. 10 car truck lanes. Zero Bike lanes. by Gary Kreie, on Flickr
Looking at the drawing and placement, it wouldn't be too much design difficulty to do this. it would likely be placed on the deck carrying the westbound lanes due to the east bank only has trails north of 270. and the way things slope you can have easy grades getting down to either sides. Some other projects should be done to connect any span to Emmeneger nature park and make the road between there and Powder Valley to Geyer Road more ped/bike friendly. Especially if they look at improving Geyer Road to be more friendly and be part of a Meremec Greenway to Grant's Trail route.

Eventually the Meremec Greenway could be used as routings to connect to the Ozard Trail and the Rock Island Trail so having more crossings is needed to link things together.
Exactly. We're looking for any way to get walkers and bikers across the Meramec to link the two long trails both named Meramec Greenway. There are plenty of links for cars and trucks. A link from the end of Cragwold Rd to Marshall Road or the end of Greentree Park trail is very short ~ 1/3 mile, but it is all trees. So that link may not happen overnight. But if the bridge lane is there, that will be the last link needed, and it would far cheaper than a bridge.

Even if it works out that the East bound lanes would would better, that would be fine since the trail on both sides can easily go under the bridges. This is looking across to the base from the West side toward the East. If a lane came down from above from the Eastbound lanes, a short trail could go under all the bridges to link things together.

ImageUntitled by Gary Kreie, on Flickr

Just the link to Powder Valley and Geyer would be great. I could imagine bikers commuting to Kirkwood from Fenton or even Arnold someday if the link was in place.
I frequently walk the river at lunch. Here are some pics from earlier in the week

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Nice. Very low water level right now.
So it appears that the 2007 Trail Master Plan for Sunset Hills called for a bike/ped bridge across the Meramec River next to I-44.

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And for good measure, the 2016 Sunset Hills Comprehensive Plan also indicates the same desire for a bike/ped bridge.

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I think if Sunset Hills tossed in the money for it there would be a bike/ped accessibility.
mill204 wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:43 am
So it appears that the 2007 Trail Master Plan for Sunset Hills called for a bike/ped bridge across the Meramec River next to I-44.

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And for good measure, the 2016 Sunset Hills Comprehensive Plan also indicates the same desire for a bike/ped bridge.

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Great find. I'll point this out to a few folks. Thanks.